Sir Bradley Wiggins has enrolled to do a degree in social work, saying he "wants to help people".
The 2012 Tour de France winner says he no longer wants to "live off the back of" his cycling career.
Wiggins, 39, told The Big Issue that his own difficult childhood has given him a "mental toughness".
"Those horrific things I saw when I was growing up - nothing can shock me now, and I want to use that mental toughness working as a social worker," he said.
Wiggins, who took Olympic gold in the time trial event in London just days after his Tour win, says he wants to be known for something other than his sporting success.
"When people say, 'Oh, you're that cyclist', I'll say, 'No, that was a few years ago. I'm a social worker now'."
After retiring from cycling, Wiggins tried his hand at rowing, but found more success as a TV pundit for Eurosport.
Although he says he wants to use his own experience of growing up in Kilburn, London, with an estranged father to support others.
"Now I can do the TV job, but I've also enrolled to do an open university degree in social work," he said. "I want to help people."
Wiggins was at the centre of controversy after Fancy Bears, the Russian hackers group, leaked details of the Briton's therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) in 2016.
Documents showed the five-time Olympic champion had sought TUEs to use a banned anti-inflammatory drug shortly before the 2011 Tour de France, his 2012 Tour win and the 2013 Giro d'Italia.
The UK Anti-Doping Agency (Ukad) then investigated a 'mystery package' received by former British Cycling and Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman for Wiggins on 12 June 2011.
Both Wiggins and Team Sky deny any wrongdoing.
This week, the professional cycling team founded by Wiggins - Team Wiggins - announced it would be closing down at the end of the year.